Caravan Gas - how to choose the right type

Which gas do I use for my caravan?

At Calor Gas we’ve supported the caravan industry since we began trading in 1935. We’re passionate about caravans and camping, and we continue to invest in new products specifically for caravanners throughout the UK. As experts in everything LPG, we’re able to offer advice on choosing the right gas for your caravan.

LPG cylinders are ideal for caravans because they power your heating, lighting and cooking too. Some caravans can even use it to run the fridge.

Petroleum gas is created as part of the process of refining crude oil – it’s collected and compressed into a liquid before being bottled. The LPG will remain in its liquid form for as long as it is held under sufficient pressure. If that pressure is lowered (i.e. some gas is drawn off) an amount of the liquid will boil into gas until the pressure is restored. For caravan gas appliances it’s allowed to boil and then used in its gaseous state.

Types of LPG

There are two different types of LPG – Propane and Butane.

Propane has a lower boiling point than Butane and is stored at a higher pressure so it is more suited for storage outside. Propane has a boiling point of -42.1°C, so it will always produce a flammable gas supply. You may have noticed that our propane gas comes in a red cylinder and is often used for leisure applications such as barbecues or patio heaters. There are also specially designed lightweight propane cylinders available on the market, especially for caravanning, and are designed to reduce the nose weight of your caravan.

Butane gas bottles are predominately used for portable gas heaters and leisure applications through the warmer months. Butane’s boiling point (conversion from liquid to gas) is around 0˚C. Most British winters (and the occasional summer) can see temperatures around or below 0°C; this usually means that butane can only be used during the warmer months or indoors. Butane is less toxic, so you can legally store it indoors.

For this reason, Propane is often the best choice for caravanners, especially for those who use their caravan throughout the year, and is also useful to power the all-important barbecue. When it comes to replacing your gas cylinder, plenty of campsites and caravan parks stock gas cylinders, so it’s easy to replenish your supply. 

How much LPG have I got left in my cylinder?

Cylinders are normally described by the weight of gas they contain when full. There are a few ways to determine the amount of gas remaining in a cylinder.

The simplest method is to pick up the cylinder and swirl it around listening for the sound of liquid. Obviously this isn’t accurate - and the cylinders can be very heavy. Some of Calor’s gas cylinders come readily fitted with a gas indicator, so that you can clearly see the amount of gas remaining in the cylinder. This avoids the situation of running out and gives you time to buy a replacement, so you won’t become a cold caravanner!

Safety first

Make sure you carefully consider where you store your gas cylinders. Gas cylinders should always be stored upright in a safe location. Lying them down may cause LPG to escape through the valve and become a large volume of combustible gas. At Calor Gas we recommend that you disconnect them from any of your caravan’s appliances while you’re in transit. Make sure that there’s adequate ventilation in the area they’re stored in.

Don’t forget – your caravan’s gas installation should be serviced annually by a qualified engineer. Stay safe, and enjoy your travels!

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  • brinny
    14 November 2012 16:19 brinny
    A method that I've used for checking the amount of gas left for a number of years camping is to pour some hot water down the side of the cylinder and just feel where it goes cold. That's basically where the gas level is.

    PS. You have to be quick :-)
  • shar
    12 November 2011 15:31 shar
    Hi im looking for a refillable bottle also whats the best value for money bottle please .
    Can anyone help !
    Thanks haron
  • BenF
    24 October 2011 08:32 BenF
    The information is hard to track down... Calor gas lite cylinders carry 6 Kg of LPG gas and are approx 10.5 Kg when full.

    The Calor lite site appears to be down (or removed) so I'd recommend contacting your local gas supplier for definitive information.
  • TonyA
    23 October 2011 19:56 TonyA
    what size/weight are Calor gas lite bottles ? please
  • The 2 Tops
    05 October 2011 17:05 The 2 Tops
    We converted to the BP Gaslight some while ago, and carry 2x 10kg bottles. During transit, it should be sufficient to turn off the main gas tap in the front locker; which was all that was demanded by the Checker before going through the Channel Tunnel.